Football Tribe SEA Editor
Everyone has saw it coming and now it’s official. The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) have announced that they’re postponing the upcoming 2020 AFF Cup to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite earlier optimism that the competition might be held as usual at the end of this year, the AFF has decided that for the safety of everyone, the biennial competition that pits national teams from all over Southeast Asia will be postponed until at least next year.
Through a statement issued by the AFF Cup’s exclusive commercial partner Sportfive, AFF president Khiev Sameth had this to say regarding the competition’s postponement, as quoted from Goal, “Since the onset of COVID-19, the AFF has been closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), health ministries, government agencies, FIFA, and AFC.”
“As you are aware, this pandemic continues to pose enormous health, societal and economic challenges to us all. AFF’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our football family and mitigating the impact of this pandemic. With the risk of the spread of COVID-19 remaining high, the AFF finds itself in a situation where we cannot proceed safely with the 2020 edition of the AFF Cup.”
“While these are unprecedented times for the whole world including our football family and communities, we are confident that we will get through it together with the support of all our stakeholders, including our fans, member associations, players, coaches, official, media and partners. We would like to thank them for standing united with us in the fight against COVID-19.”
Around two months earlier, the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) released a statement that they would volunteer to become the host of the 2020 AFF Cup. Vietnam has been praised by the world for their quick and strict handling of COVID-19, which leaves them with zero deaths so far and has seen life slowly returning to normal in the country. Large audiences were also present in recent V.League 1 matches, which suggested that things might have returned to normalcy in Vietnamese football. However, the 2020 V.League 1 has been suspended from Round 12 onwards while the second tier 2020 V.League 2 saw matches being postponed from Round 10 onwards after a number of new, locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases were detected at the city of Da Nang and the nearby province of Quang Ngai over last weekend.
The AFF did not specify on which date the 2021 AFF Cup will be held to replace this year’s postponed competition.
Park Hang-seo’s Vietnam were the defending champions of the AFF Cup, having defeated Tan Cheng Hoe’s Malaysia 3-2 on aggregate in the 2018 final, with the decisive goal that secured the title being scored by Vietnamese football’s very own living legend Nguyen Anh Duc. The title was Vietnam’s second after their maiden trophy in 2008.